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After facing the tough task of winning seven games in roughly 24 hours, the Lakeland College men's volleyball team pulled off a repeat of last year's efforts at the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference Tournament by sweeping all games to clinch the regular-season conference title outright and win the WVC Tournament Championship for the second time in program history on Friday and Saturday in La Crosse, Wis.
The Muskies (43-8 overall) defeated UW-Whitewater for the WVC title in just two games with identical 25-19 scores on Saturday. Lakeland also dispatched UW-La Crosse, 2-0 (25-18, 25-18), in the semifinals and UW-Stevens Point, 2-0 (25-9, 25-18), in the quarterfinals in order to reach the championship game.
Senior outside hitter Matt Martin and sophomore outside hitter Joe Julkowski continued to shine in tournament play, leading the offense in all three matches. Julkowski tallied 10 kills in the championship match to go along with nine digs, and also led in the quarterfinals with eight kills. Martin was the offensive leader in the semifinals with nine kills and six digs, followed by Julkowski with seven kills.
In Friday's matches all participating teams were finishing up their regular season schedules, pitting the Muskies against UW-Stout, UW-Platteville, UW-La Crosse and UW-Stevens Point for the second time in the regular season. Lakeland came out on top in each match, 2-0, defeating Stout (25-8, 25-12), Platteville (25-13, 25-14), host La Crosse (25-19, 25-13) and Stevens Point (25-10, 25-20) to earn the No. 1 seed heading into tournament play.
Lakeland and fellow WVC competitor UW-Oshkosh had each entered competition on Friday with one loss in conference play. However, Oshkosh fell to La Crosse in one of their four regular-season matches, giving Lakeland sole possession of the regular-season title.
Senior middle hitter Jared Rohland and Martin helped the squad breeze past the remainder of their regular-season WVC matches, with Rohland hitting a perfect 9-for-9 in the first match against UW-Stout. Junior setter Matt Clemens was also a major factor against the Blue Devils, putting up 20 assists. Martin led at the net against Platteville with seven kills, while Rohland registered another top effort against La Crosse with nine kills followed by Julkowski with seven.
The Muskies also snagged several all-WVC awards, as Martin was named the MVP of the tournament and senior middle hitter Avdo Omerbegovic and Julkowski were named to the all-tournament team. Martin, Omerbegovic, Julkowski, Rohland and Clemens all received regular-season all-WVC recognition.
Lakeland will conclude its season with the NIRSA National Tournament in Dallas, Tex., on April 10-12. Match times and opponents TBA.